One Down, Two to Go

by Dominic Zanti | December 20, 2022

Welcome back to another competition season! My name is Dominic Zanti, and as the current CEO of Miner Aviation, I’m excited to share what our team has been working on these past few months. It’s hard to believe that the fall semester is already coming to a close and we’ll soon be traveling to Tucson, Arizona for AIAA’s Design, Build, Fly competition. With new activities within the team, different rules, and a flight test already under our belts, there’s a lot to update on, so let’s get into it!

What's New?


We started this semester trying something new for the team: a small scale project where groups could work together and create a glider. Not only would this teach newer members the manufacturing methods we use in creating our competition plane, but also a way to bond and learn about the team. It culminated with a trip to Lion’s Club, a nearby park, where we were able to throw them around and see how well they flew. In addition to this project, we’ve had a couple socials throughout the semester, such as a late night bowling event and a fly-in where we took retired planes out to the field and (nervously) spun them up again. Overall it’s been great to meet and spend time with the team outside of a working environment. As for the technical side of the team, we’ve rebranded our structures subteam into stress, research & development. This better encompasses what the subteam hopes to accomplish: looking into new ideas and experimental techniques that the team has never done before. We’ve also merged, for this year only, dynamic systems into integration and manufacturing as the subsystem for this year’s competition is not as prevalent as past years.

The Competition

The competition that we will be competing in, similar to the past years, is AIAA’s Design/Build/Fly. The objective, named ‘Electronic Warfare’, is unique in that the aircraft has to fit within a box of length + width + height of 62 inches. On top of this, the aircraft must have two sets of wings and be assembled before each flight. The flight missions include attaching a pvc pipe “jamming antenna” to the end of the wing, and carrying a payload of desired weight within the aircraft. To see more about the competition and the rules, you can visit AIAA's website. The team is extremely excited to test different configurations and create a plane vastly different than previous years.

Maiden Flight

In fact, we are already well into the process of doing so. Our first prototype was finished last week, giving us the opportunity to have a flight test before the semester ended. This is a huge accomplishment for the team as we’ve rarely had an aircraft completed before January. I’m very proud of the hard work all the members have been putting in to see this done. As for the flight test, it was extremely successful and a lot of good information was gathered. This is just one of three aircrafts the team plans on making before competition, and every improvement will be implemented into the next to ensure our final aircraft will be the best it can be.


What's Next?

As we head into winter break, our integration and manufacturing subteam is already starting the design of our second prototype. Extensive testing, both on the ground and in the air, will be performed as we push each aircraft to its limit. Miner Aviation is ready for Tucson, and we’re bringing our A game.